Coal Grove will use entire staff to overcome pitching losses
COAL GROVE - With the horse gone, Coal Grove Hornets coach John Jones will turn to a bunch of ponies.
Among the losses from last year's team was pitching ace Tommy Pemberton. But despite losing their dominating righthander who is now at Wright State, Jones thinks the Hornets can recover by using a herd of pitchers.
"We got more pitchers than we've had in a long time, but we don't have any big throwers. They're
all within a 10-mile an hour range and they throw strikes," Jones said.
Leading the pitching staff are veterans Randy Wise and Nick Bazell. Also expected to log innings will be Bryan Bryant, Grant Wilcox and possibly others. Jones admits the staff must be handled with care.
"We're young and the only proven pitcher is Wise," Jones said.
Speaking of youth, the Hornets have only two seniors on the roster, outfielders Patrick Roush and Jake Allen. Even with three sophomores and four freshman, Jones doesn't want to make excuses.
"We have only two seniors, but we have juniors and sophomores who have started as many or more games as they have. Age-wise, we're young, but we have guys who are two- and three-year starters," Jones said. "I think our freshmen are a pretty good group."
The infield returns virtually intact with Tyler Branch at third base, Wise at shortstop and Bryant at second base. To help matters, Bazell is back at catcher.
Andy Smith is the backup catcher in the event Bazell pitches, and Jack Murphy can backup any of the infield positions.
First base would belong to Josh Jewell, but he's coming off knee surgery and won't be ready to play when the season starts. In his place will be either Eric Davidson or Andrew Christian.
"He's been cleared to play, but it's going to take a little while," Jones said.
The outfield will have Roush back in left, Jake Allen or Davidson in center, and Christian in right.
"Our infield is pretty solid and our outfield is pretty good," Jones said. "Davidson is the most athletic at first base. I'm more comfortable with our outfield than I have been in a long time."
If the pitching performs well and the defense remains solid, the Hornets only concern will be with the offense. Jones thinks that shouldn't be a problem.
"Wise should hit well, and Roush hit .370 last year so hopefully that will continue," Jones said. "Bryant is a little guy but he has some pop in his bat and he makes good contact.
"Bazell can hit with power, Allen has been hitting better, Murphy puts the ball in play and Smith hits the ball about every time. He's not intimidated."
Jones said the Ohio Valley Conference race could be a two team chase.
"Fairland has the pitching and Chesapeake has everyone back, so I'd have to make them the favorites," Jones said. "I think Rock Hill will be a lot better, River Valley always comes up with something, and South Point has a good program. It should be a competitive race."
Coal Grove Hornets
2005 Baseball Roster
Jarrod Keaton, Chuck Price
9at Minford (2)5:00
12IRONTON ST. JOSEPH5:00
13at South Point*5:00
16PORTS. CLAY (2)12:00
18at Rock Hill*5:00
22at Ironton St. Joseph5:00
25at River Valley*5:00
*-Denotes OVC game